Lighthouse News of the Week – April 9, 2021

Vent ball at top of St. Simons Island Lighthouse (GA) undergoes repair

To the casual observer, the ball at the top of the 104-foot-tall St. Simons Island lighthouse appears ornamental, but it once vented a kerosene lamp. After 149 years, aged and weathered, the vent required the skills of some specially skilled repairmen.

St. Simons Island Lighthouse, Georgia. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Tom Tag.

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Japan’s oldest wooden lighthouse to be moved for first time in centuries

Japan’s Imazu Todai Lighthouse will be relocated across a river as part of work to shore up Imazu Port just west of Osaka against the threat of tsunami. The beacon was originally built in 1810 to aid vessels transporting famed sake from Nishinomiya and surrounding areas to Edo, present-day Tokyo.

Imazu Todai Lighthouse Lighthouse, Japan.
U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Darlene Chisolm.

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Keeper’s house on DeTour Point (MI) destroyed by fire

The keeper’s house from DeTour Point Lighthouse has burned to the ground, leaving only a chimney standing. The house was in private ownership. The light was transferred to DeTour Reef Light when it was built in 1931.

DeTour Point Lighthouse
U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

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Foghorn signals re-opening of Sumburgh Lighthouse (Scotland) after delay

The first blast of the foghorn at Sumburgh Head in more than a year-and-a-half signaled the re-opening of the lighthouse visitor center last Saturday. Families, birdwatchers, locals and some tourists – totaling more than 200 – made their way to top of Sumburgh Head to welcome the start of the season.

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse

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Director Rob Aspe discusses his documentary “The Last Lighthouse Keepers”

Director Rob Aspe takes viewers on a stunning journey around New England’s coastline as he explores the history and uncertain future of iconic lighthouses, along with the passionate few trying to save them, in his documentary feature The Last Lightkeepers.

Rob Apse, right, with crew member John Dickson on the left and Ford Reiche, owner of Halfway Rock Lighthouse in Maine, in the center. Courtesy of Wandergroove.

Check out this video segment from WCVB-TV’s (Boston) Chronicle program

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How to save a lighthouse? Sleep in one.

At moonrise, Lorraine Coyle likes to climb the five flights of stairs to the gallery deck of the lantern room at Borden Flats Lighthouse, located 1,500 feet off the coast of Massachusetts. “The flag is flapping in the wind, seagulls fly by at eye level, and there’s nothing like the sound of a foghorn,” says Coyle, a New Yorker and frequent guest at this offshore lighthouse at the mouth of the Taunton River.

Borden Flats Lighthouse, Massachusetts. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

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Grand Haven Lighthouse (MI) to become public museum

Nestled along Lake Michigan is Grand Haven’s iconic lighthouse. Dave Karpin, president of the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy, said their plan is to turn the lighthouse into a public museum. “We’re calling it the Inside Out Project because we’re bringing the inside of the lighthouse out to the public,” Karpin said. “We want to try to re-create the way it looked back in 1921.” And now, more than 150 years after it was built in the 1870s, the lighthouse is inching closer to bringing people inside its doors for the first time in years.

Grand Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy D’Entremont at

2 thoughts on “Lighthouse News of the Week – April 9, 2021

  1. Hello all,
    just saw the “Last Lighthouse Keepers” documentary. Best $2.99 spent in a long time. I would give it an A grade.
    However, one fact is incorrect: Under the National Historic Lighthouse Act, the GSA auctions off the lighthouse if no one applies. WRONG. The group or government has to fill out a long application and try to convince the National Park Service that they have a plan to raise the money to maintain the lighthouse, then they ask a lot more questions and that has to be submitted. Reasons for denying can be a simple as the group hasn’t been around long enough (no guideline on that), they also would like you to have experience running a similar venture, it appears running boat trips to offshore lighthouses isn’t enough. Fixing lighthouse also helps, however, the Federal Government is NOT real cooperative with that especially for offshore lighthouses.
    In our application we stated how hard it is to raise money for a lighthouse your group doesn’t have access to, nor would one of the National Parks let us work on the keepers house. Nonetheless we raised money, we have yearly boat trips and have a long time working partnership with the Florida Lighthouse Association that has money coming in every month from the FLA specialty tag that it in return gives grants to local groups like ours. Also our group the Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation is only one year newer that the NHLPA, so this year it will be 20 years.
    Funny those bidding don’t have to know anything about lighthouses and they aren’t required to restore then, nor have to fill out an application. Some of those have had little or no money put in the lighthouses. We and others estimate that half of those lighthouse will still fall, so much for saving history.
    Sorry for the rant, but we were denied Sand Key Lighthouse and the winner of the auction bid didn’t even close on the lighthouse. No word on the second group (top secret until they close).
    take care, Eric S. Martin – President F K R L F

    1. Hi Eric,

      I agree with many of your complaints about the NHLPS process. I definitely agree that an organization that is committed to the mission of preserving a lighthouse is usually going to be a better steward than someone who simply bids the highest in an auction. Some of the auctions have worked out well, others haven’t. It’s a crapshoot. Regarding the film — it should have said, “If no application is accepted, or if nobody applies, the lighthouse is auctioned.” – Jeremy D’Entremont (Please note that this is my personal opinion and not necessarily that of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.)

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